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Riddell, J L

Entry updated 15 March 2024. Tagged: Author.

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(1807-1865) US chemist, botanist, inventor and author of Orrin Lindsay's Plan of Aerial Navigation, with a Narrative of his Explorations in the Higher Regions of the Atmosphere, and his Wonderful Voyage Round the Moon! (1847 chap), a Scientific Hoax narrative clearly indebted to Edgar Allan Poe's "Hans Phaall – A Tale" (June 1835 The Southern Literary Messenger), both exemplifying the complex interrelation between hoax and Thought Experiment significant in the shaping of twentieth-century Hard SF. Orrin Lindsay's Plan, which contains a detailed description of the building of the metal Balloon that takes him to the Moon and back, as well as a strongly argued description of the principles of Antigravity underlying the Spaceship's propulsion device. As a tale hovering between Proto SF and H G Wells, whose use of antigravity in The First Men in the Moon (1901) is similar to Riddell's, Orrin Lindsay's Plan might have been influential had it been known. But it was born obscure and remained obscure for many years; its priority and aborted significance have only recently been understood. [JC]

John Leonard Riddell

born Leyden, Massachusetts: 20 February 1807

died New Orleans, Louisiana: 7 October 1865


about the author

  • Everett F Bleiler. "Documents in the History of Science Fiction: John Leonard Riddell, Pioneer" (July 2009 Science Fiction Studies Volume 36, #2, whole #108) [pp284-299: mag/]


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